“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “cards

Getting to Know the CDI System and Project Updates

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Good morning! I’m writing you from the deck of my patio that has hop vines wrapping around all it. (The pic above from the spring) The squirrels are busy picking the last of the ripe mulberries and birds are singing while playing in the bird baths. Without question the coffee sits beside me flooding me with the wonderful taste of hazelnut. If I cannot find a coffee sponsor in the next few years I just going to open a coffee business. I have to try harder with some of the local Michigan roasters.

The office fridge might have seen its last days. It’s almost fully defrosted and we’ll see once we plug it back in if it lives. If it’s dead I’ll be getting a more fuel-efficient replacement. The one now was from my buddies basement where we would skip class at MSU, drink beer, play pool and listen to jams. It’s been a worthy chiller of beverages so we will see.

This week was a hot, humid wave that’s not really to my liking. It was followed by just a few extremely beautiful days consisting of warm air and cool winds. During the heat wave I got a lot of writing and paperwork done while watching the various nations go at it on the World Cup soccer field. Let’s look at a few of the movie updates.

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I’m happy to say that the domestic home-video deal on the 3rd film in The Quest TrilogyTHE CHRIST SLAYER is signed. It will join parts 1 & 2 at Bridgestone Multimedia Group. The Christmas theatrical will be followed by an Easter home video release. I’m excited to have all three out there together which will reveal more about the overall storyline. Interweaving of the story arc goes through all three stories/movies. IF you have seen part 1 (Forty Nights) or part 2 (Chasing the Star) please do leave a review on amazon or IMDB and leave what you took away from it. I think people unaware that it was a trilogy felt part 2 kind of left them hanging – well it was meant to. The next few months will see things heating up PR-wise on part 3 with more BTS and still photos releasing. It really is an epic way to end the trilogy. I know Dennis Therrian will do another incredible score. The VFX work coming in is just incredible, not surprising as their previous work included BLACK SAILS (One of my favorite series) and ROGUE ONE just to name a few. They built models and created digital matte paintings just for this film. This film was a really cool step for us as a company allowing us to use as many VFX shots as we did. I have director Nathaniel Nose to thank for all that.

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I will use that example in discussing development work at CDI. I’m trying to make more time to sit down with people in our field. Directors, actors and those trying to produce content. From the earliest days of CDI it was about bringing cards to the table. CDI is an actor/producers company looking to tell powerful stories. Currently we have momentum behind my scripts – distributors like the content and final product. Talent loves the style and depth of the characters and situations. We also have some talented writers within our ranks. ADVICE – IF you’re bringing a script to the table the best thing is to also bring the money.

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BUT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART! Yes. I know this. After many years in this industry – a truth is – every NEW variable could lead to new advancements OR disaster. The wrong crew or cast can be devastating to the overall quality of the final product. I’ve been scrutinized because I would rather pay a broader crew base a modest wage versus overpay a name talent, at the expense of the crew. It’s a difference of opinion in business models and a happy medium does exist. I feel a larger name can move more initial units but a bad movie with a larger name will also die off quickly. I had to turn off a multimillion dollar film lately. It was long, plodding (nice camerawork) but after an hour plus we still had 45 min plus minutes to go. We didn’t care about any of the characters. That’s the result of either a poor script or just bad chemistry as you know they had a huge crew base. I’m saying that I would rather have a modest, long-term success with a good movie vs a flash hit with a bad film. How long before it gets lost in the shuffle of bad films? What do you have to show for all that hard work years later?

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OK. I went slightly off topic. But anyone new is a wild variable, and therefore a risk. Skill is only part of the equation whereas personality/character is the other big factor. Do they play well with others? Positive? Respectful? I’ve had others say “so and so” is a great artists but grumpy or aloof and that’s just how they are. Well, they can go be that somewhere else. I have reduced all this down to a simple saying – Always be a sail and never an anchor.

So with these sit downs – I’ll be getting to know people and informally evaluating to see if they would ever work well into our system. The CDI system. What does that mean? Well…these films were not the result of some money thrown together to rush together a film – perhaps with no accountability. I shudder when I hear of all the films being done with no script or the script is just an afterthought. I recall one time an actor friend telling me they were on set and the director was having them write the script on the spot. He called it interesting and I called it incompetence. I guess it was both. But here we’re taking on investment capital and we must give best efforts. This company was founded on best efforts and striving to always be better. CDI today is built upon its earliest endeavors. Future CDI endeavors will be built on current endeavors. This is a tradition not a hobby. Not a film challenge but an evolution. This is a business that works in deep creative waters. My expectations of myself and the producers/directors are high. My expectations of the cast and crews are high. If you are not serious about the process and the end result – off the deck. No point in trying to sign up here.

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On set of the thriller “Bestseller”

Now some people just don’t know any different but once shown a better way they are willing to adapt and thrive in a more structured endeavor. Others can try to drag negativity or bad habits from previous experiences but I’ve been doing this a long time. If you start to feel like that anchor, stating obvious problems versus presenting viable solutions, being a sail – I’m going to drop you at the next island. Lose your professionalism and respect and the immediate gangplank walk could be your fate. I don’t fire often but I’m more than willing to do what needs to be done. That said, every firing has been a failing on my part. A failure to properly evaluate someone before a hiring or just failure to lead that person to a better way of co-existing on a film set. Management is something I enjoy because I’ve had the opportunity to create the environment that I want to work in. The environment that allows the best creative juices to flow.

I guess in summary – you could be involved in a CDI association or collaboration IF you have your own funds and seek a machine (production unit) that runs like a CDI film. Now $ still rules so if you bring a majority of the production funds, unless decided differently in contract, we consult or bring options to arising issues. That controlling entity makes the final decisions. Those decisions need to be made with wisdom and balance or trouble can quickly develop. I think I make fair decisions and I’ll say, I’ve made unpopular decisions. But I think it’s about working to be able to see the big picture. Not being drawn in by the ego into trying to force something to fit that does not. Don’t say yes to things that should be told no.

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I had productive talks this past week with an experienced director talking about possible CDI collaboration. Our management at Collective Development Inc. was recommended to him. We shared mutual Hollywood horror stories usually stemming from fast-talking, car salesmen-like distributors and wanna be producers, mucking things up. Much of this proposed collaboration will just depend on pros, cons and schedules. I have another past producer collaborator getting close to having his next financing. He wants my involvement again. Evaluate: Content, Script, Schedule… All these variables when kept in-house tend to run very smooth. Adding these outside variables are where most issues lie. Most of the rough waters are in the associated projects but that is also where collaboration exists. But make sure they are a good fit. So I have more phone calls and meetings this week to network and get to know a few folks working hard telling their stories.

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WILD FAITH – Lots of exciting happenings here. The home video deal is being worked on while we discuss the option of also launching a TV series. I am really pushing hards on this as I love the character I play. I love the world we built. I love the talent (both sides of camera) and know we would incorporate lots of Michigan talent into the various shows. We’ve been working to set up some additional theatrical showings and we wanted to look at showings in LA and/or NYC. The costs involved were steep and for me I’m watching the bottom line versus the red carpet strut.  But I’m happy to say we’ll be screening at the AMC in Burbank as part of the invited line up at the Burbank International Film Festival. I think I’m going to make the trip and my LA-area amigos can finally see one of our films on the big screen. It plays great theatrically and I will enjoy the conversation with film friends after. You too can join us on Sept 8th in Burbank. Read about it here-

https://www.prlog.org/12716952-west-coast-premiere-of-wild-faith.html

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Our last film Man’s Best Friend is having the post materials organized as editing is about to begin in full. The opening credit sequence was heavily discussed and that is being worked on. We will also start having more solid talks about the 1st teaser trailer. Also trying to get the right color correction on the first stills before we start releasing those. The story is in puzzle form and soon we’ll start to assemble the film.

I’ve really been enjoying the writing as of late. I’ve taken a few good script concepts and I’m infusing/weaving that into what will likely be our fall film. It’s been refreshing to be back into the imagination and putting it to page. Some location scouting and ground work is also being done. I will say that the initial script concept was to be shot in another state. I was so happy with our last crew that I am revamping the script to Michigan. I’m sincerely thinking we can convince a few of the MBF crew to return:)

Well, it’s a beautiful day and I might spend a little time engaging in some writing. We will also likely go walk a flea market. I love what you can find at those things. I often find props or things that a story might hinge around. No soccer today as we have a BYE week before starting the second half of the season. Next weekend I have a class reunion which will be interesting. I did actually see a Michigan-based, non-CDI project casting that caught my eye. I asked a few questions and we’ll see if any chemistry exists. If not, I’m happy to wait until fall. I do have a script to finish.

Be good to one another!

DJ

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On the EVE of 2018! Looking Ahead…

e2mbxPnhJ_EiH2qgoYKeew_rGood sunny, arctic morning to you from Michigan. It’s 8 degrees today and with windchill…it is bitter. So the Christmas season is about at an end with people looking forward to the coming year. I have to say that 2017 was a pretty good year. I loved our U.P. trip exploring the upper reaches of our great state. We also had our challenges like anyone else such as our furry boy who faced a few medical issues once agin. I’m glad to say he’s now doing great aside from despising the chilly cold. I lost some beloved friends from childhood, mentors and others close to me this year. They will no longer need to debate or navigate the small issues of life. They rest at peace while the remaining group of us look forward to 2018. I hope 2018 can be a year of better communication between people. Better could be translated to say respectful communication. I saw so much negative operating outside our sphere while at the same time being impressed by our positive approach to our endeavors.

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Again if someone has a different culture, religion, viewpoint on something indulge it. It might not change your stance but it might refine your reasoning. I said it last week, practice not saying anything in text/posts that you would not say to that person directly. And if you’re a person who says you would – SAY IT TO THEIR FACE – do it. Communicate with someone, interpersonal communication. It was an odd course in college but I can see where that is now lacking. I get asked for advice often about our filmmaking endeavors. Become a good communicator and try to always keep your word. Good communication goes for everyone. The better a director can communicate to his keys the better. Conversely you must become a good listener as well. With decreasing attention spans that is hard for many. This is also a good hint to actors. I see many what I call 50% actors. By that I mean, don’t be a great actor when speaking and go blank when your listening. By truly listening you are reacting which is at least 50% of acting. Look at your own work and see if this is a problem you might have. Do you keep missing that casting opportunity? Take an honest look and see if this is something you need to do. It is an easy correction but just requires awareness and acceptance.

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Last year we worked hard to bring our films to you. Forty Nights and Chasing the Star – parts 1 & 2 of The Quest Trilogy hit the holiday scene hard. As we head towards Easter I think the push will be towards Forty Nights. The Christ Slayer – part 3 will be going into music and sound design. We’ll be releasing a new poster and trailer heading into Feb. I got to see 75% of the new trailer and I was floored by what I saw. Everything we’ve learned shooting the trilogy really comes full circle in the last chapter. It was also a huge joy to see Forty Nights and Chasing the Star playing together on Parables TV. I see the day of all three playing together during the holiday season.

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WILD FAITH – The 2018 year will kick off with this mid-Western tale. As a treat we released this PR with a link to our new theatrical trailer.

https://prlog.org/12684106

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We’ll be meeting more in the new year to talk premiere, theatrical and home video. It will be exciting. For everything that the trailer IS it is not the best of this film. The movie really excites me in a way that is hard to do after 50 movies+. I think it will become a favorite especially for lovers of the time period and genre.

Speaking on the genre WICKED SPRING our 2000 Civil War film will be getting a new release with Bridgestone Multimedia Group. Other CDI films will be getting new life in 2018. We’ll also continue our march into foreign territories.

It’s now time to push hard and bring on the last of our investors on our next CDI project which is MBF (man’s best friend) a powerful tale about our military vets and shelter dogs. You’ll be reading about more cast and crew and updates as we move forward.

I’m going to cut this short. We’ve got a few things to do around here before we welcome in the new year. We’ll be spending time with a few friends tonight likely with some chill music, cards and some good eats and drinks. I will not be waking up with any hangover. Leave that to you young bucks. Those of you who do blow it out party style get a ride. You don’t want the legal or additional results from an accident.

See you all next year! Be good to one another.

DJ

 


Trilogy, Fort, MBF, Wild Faith Updates

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Welcome friends from Malta and Mexico. I’m sitting down with my coffee and thinking back on what a productive week was had here at CDI. Last week those who read our blog got the early notice on Part 2 (Chasing the Star/CTS) of The Quest Trilogy releasing digitally before the Sept 5th date. Amazon and Christian Cinema both have the film now for those that cannot wait. After Sept 5th the DVD’s will start rolling out from retailers. We also are in the process of accepting the invite to show “CTS” at the 2018 festival. “Forty Nights” won ‘Most Inspirational’ so we’ll see how Part 2 does. So far the reviews have been strong and we know how audiences react. As I prepare for a few BIG pitch meetings I’m happy to show you all the TRILOGY trailers back-to-back. ENJOY

 

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An actual TRILOGY trailer is being worked on. “The Christ Slayer” VFX is doing great. I got to see some of the work involved in the VFX work. The scene they are working on is the crucifixion scene. We’ll be rolling more out on this once we get “Chasing the Star” launched into the marketplace. We’re also putting the deal together for a church theatrical program in Novasota, Texas. In Nov and Dec they will license Part 1 & Part 2 to show. I can see the days ahead whereas the trilogy will play back-to-back during the holiday season.

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Music work by the incredible Dennis Therrian continues. This month we’re going to push hard to finish the music and VFX. We had a good meeting with director Jesse Low to evaluate our final actions. Also the first poster is very close. I’m very excited about the potential of this film and beyond.

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ASHES OF EDEN

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Potential deals loom for “Ashes of Eden” and a classic “Wicked Spring” – the latter is the Civil War film we produced 17 years ago when I had a sister company to CDI called Lionheart Filmworks. It was created in VA with director Kevin Hershberger and was directed at historic content. I split several years ago and we took all rights to “Wicked Spring” in exchange for our holding in Lionheart Filmworks. I’ve been happy to see the success Kevin has had with his TV series Legends & Lies and such. It is a great story that will speak to this generation.

The NEW Collective Development Inc. company website is weeks away from launching. The new CDI Youtube site phase one is up. It will be a great hub to find/buy/rent CDI content and merchandise. The TRIBE is on the move.

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MAN’S BEST FRIEND/MBF

This project now has the business foundation in place. We’re going to push hard to see if we can hit our target window to shoot. Our casting process has been on-going and we’ve seen some great talent from around the country. We’ll be making the announcement on our director Anthony Hornus this week. Also we’ll start rolling out some of the attached cast and crew. I’m beyond excited by some of the wonderful talent. Bridgestone Multimedia Group will distribute worldwide.

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So in summary, re-watch “Forty Nights” and watch “Chasing the Star” – please do leave online reviews and spread the word if you liked what you saw. I’m also happy to announce that the shake upper siding, (back and front) on the office are now installed. Just the cedar flash and rafters to go and the outside will be about done. We also had the first wood stove fire of the season yesterday. I’m ready to hit the ground running on Tuesday. I want to film this fall and that just may be in the cards. Be good to one another.

DJ